Board of Directors & Officers
Board Chair, CEO and Treasurer
Lisa Salamat founded the WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society in 2007, after experiencing both the wild and captive environments our wildcats inhabit and saw a need for a legal advocacy group to protect and defend all native and nonnative wildcats. Ms. Salamat is a licensed attorney in Washington, DC, is a member of the DC Bar Animal Law Committee, and worked as a volunteer at the National Zoological Park Cheetah Conservation Station (2004-2008). Ms. Salamat holds a B.A. in English, a M.A. in Humanities/Philosophy, and a Juris Doctorate. Her role with WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society is diverse, dynamic and challenging. “I know change whether in the legal system or culturally is a slow process, however, when young adults and children tell me how shocked they are to learn that people are able to have a tiger or lion as a pet and that this needs to change, I am confident that through our legal and education programs and working with other NGOs and government agencies, we will see the end of wildcats held in all captive environments.”
Carney Anne Nasser was appointed as the organization’s Executive Director on February 4, 2018. She has special expertise in tigers and other big cats and the laws that impact endangered species in the wild and in captivity. Ms. Nasser holds a B.A. in political science from U.C. San Diego, a J.D. from Tulane University, and a graduate degree in community advocacy from the George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management. She is a recognized speaker on the national circuit and has served as national and international media spokesperson on a wide range of animal welfare issues, including appearances on CNN’s Out Front with Erin Burnett and NBC’s nationally syndicated Today Show. New Orleans Magazine recognized Ms. Nasser as a “Top Female Achiever” in 2016 for her contributions to the field of animal law.
“I am humbled and thrilled to join WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society’s leadership team,” Nasser said. “I look forward to expanding the reach of WCCLAS’ impact on ensuring that wildcats have the legal protection they need and deserve for their wellbeing in captivity, and their long term survival in the wild.”
Board Director & Secretary
Elizabeth Pugh board director and secretary since 2008, has enjoyed a 36 year distinguished career in government service. For the past 16 years, she has served as General Counsel of the Library of Congress. She is actively involved in the development of our educational programs and fundraising initiatives. Ms. Pugh holds a B.A in Sociology, a M.A. in Higher Education Administration, a Juris Doctorate and a Human Letters Honorary Doctorate. She is a volunteer at the National Zoological Park’s Children’s Farm. Upon her return from a trip to South Africa, Ms. Pugh told us “I’m so glad WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society exists. We need to continue to protect these amazing animals. I’m so glad I am apart of this organization.”
Interview with Ms. Pugh in celebration of Women’s History Month: Blogs Library of Congress
Board Director & Vice President
Mary LaRiccia board director and vice president since 2008, has enjoyed a 30 year career as a senior marketing and advertising executive. Ms. LaRiccia plays an integral role in the development of our marketing and fundraising initiatives. She holds a B.A. in Marketing and is an active advocate for wildlife and domestic animals. Ms. LaRiccia fosters neglected and abused dogs and cats and has miraculously nursed all under her care back to life and placed in forever homes. “I am so happy to be involved with the work of WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society. The information we provide on our website and in the Journal is a trusted source of truth in a sea of misinformation. I am especially interested in our initiative to prohibit canned hunting of big cats. The impact of this work could do so much to reduce exploitation and relieve suffering right here in the U.S.”
Environmental & Wildcat Conservation, Chief Consultant
Philip J. Nyhus, Associate Professor, Environmental Studies Program at Colby College, has served as our wildcat biology chief consultant since 2008. Dr. Nyhus is one of the distinguished editors of Tigers of the World: The Biology, Politics, and Conservation of Panthera tigris (2nd edition) and a contributing author to our Journal of the WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society. He has over twenty years of extensive experience working in Asia, including China and Indonesia on tiger conservation, human-wildlife conflict, the human dimension of large mammal conservation, GIS, interdisciplinary approaches to wildlife risk assessment, and environmental policy. In November 2010, Dr. Nyhus represented WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society at the The International Tiger Conservation Forum (Tiger Summit), hosted by the Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, in St. Petersburg. During our tenure with the International Tiger Coalition, Dr. Nyhus served as our advisor. Dr. Nyhus and Ms. Salamat met in Oxford during the Biology and Conservation of Wild Felids Conference in 2007.
International Legal Consultant
Richard Hargreaves has served as our international legal consultant since 2009. Mr. Hargreaves contacted Ms. Salamat regarding an article that we published in our newsletter regarding a ruling in South Africa on the practice of canned hunting. Since then, Mr. Hargreaves has worked tirelessly to bring attention to the discrepancies in international laws, practices and enforcement of and illegal hunting, trade, trafficking and of wildcats. Mr. Hargreaves is a Chartered Legal Executive in the U.K. and for the past seven years is a contributing author to our Journal of the WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society. In 2012, Mr. Hargreaves was a runner-up in the CILEx Pro Bono Medal 2012, receiving Highly Commended recognition.
Executive Admin Coordinator
Mr. Smith was originally consulted to design our first website. A recent college graduate and looking for practical experience, Mr. Smith decided to assist Ms. Salamat with the formation of WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society. He has since moved out of town and is now married with two children and a growing business of his own, Mr. Smith still works remotely with Ms. Salamat on various administrative functions and is a vital part of our organization. “WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society has a wonderful team of volunteer professionals who mainly work part-time. We all enjoy our work and time spent together building our reputation as the “go-to” wildcat organization for objective, well-researched and accurate information. We receive emails and telephone inquires from individuals, students at all levels, news and media outlets, as well as other NGOs on a variety of wildcat issues. Our CEO will take the time to speak with folks directly and follow-up with specialized written reports. This part of our work is not readily seen, but we are here and always willing to assist with wildcat research.”